8 Tips to Choose a Neighborhood You Won’t Regret
If you’re looking for a home, you’re making a big investment--probably the biggest one in your life. Make sure you buy a home in a neighborhood that suits you by following the tips below from the real estate agents Bellevue, WA residents trust when it comes to knowing the community.
Look at the High End of Your Budget
Looking at homes that are priced at the upper limit of your budget will help get you the nicest neighborhood for your money. While you never want to have the most expensive home on your block, with real estate, you generally get what you pay for. So, you want to buy as much as you comfortably can to increase the likelihood of landing in a desirable location.
Familiarize Yourself with Local Areas
Before even stepping into a property, do some recon first. Familiarize yourself with the different neighborhoods in your area, thinking about elements like:
• Views and special features
• Home size
• Architectural style
• Population density
• Greenspace and landscaping
• Cultural makeup
• School districts
• Proximity to major employers, transportation, and other amenities
When looking for homes for sale in Bellevue, WA, you’ll find most neighborhoods have their own identity, whether it’s because of great waterfront properties, hip new businesses, or historic homes. Can’t make up your mind? Living on the border between two neighborhoods you like you can give you the best of both worlds.
Likewise, living close to a favored neighborhood that’s a little out of your budget can make you feel like you’re living there. You can enjoy all of the neighborhood’s upscale features from a few blocks away without the burden of high mortgage payments and property taxes.
Check Out the Neighbors
Once you’re serious about a property or two, take a drive by and look at the neighboring properties. Are they well-maintained? Is the area pedestrian or pet-friendly, if that’s important to you?
Better yet, park a few blocks away and walk around. If you encounter folks on the street who obviously live there and seem friendly, inquire how they like the neighborhood. Have they been there a long time? What are the greatest pros and cons?
Measure the Distance to Work and School
If a short commute to work or school is important, do a dry run of the commute so you know what to expect. Don’t go by online drive times, which can be misleading. Test the drive or ride on public transit yourself so you can see how long it really takes during peak hours.
List the Local Amenities
You probably have a list of amenities you’d like in your dream neighborhood, like a coffee shop, produce market, or a bookstore. Write down your ideal neighborhood features and check off any that a potential location can satisfy, as well as any additional amenities you hadn’t thought of. Think about:
• Schools and universities
• Restaurants and pubs
• Gas stations and automotive repair
• Salons, dry cleaners, and other services
• Recreation and entertainment
• Houses of worship
• Doctors and veterinarians
• Parks and greenspace
Educate Yourself About Local Rules and Quirks
Be sure to find out about any rules or strange customs in a neighborhood you are investigating. Of course, enforceable HOA regulations are important, but there are those unwritten rules too, like neighbors who will pester you if your kids leave their bicycles in the driveway or if your lawn isn’t always manicured like a golf course.
Do all the moms gather in the park for yoga in the morning? That’s great if you’re into fitness, but if your idea of the perfect start to the day is donuts and coffee, you may feel left out. Is the local government strict about sidewalk snow shoveling and alternate side parking? Do your homework now so you’re not taken off guard and won't regret your move. Talk to local brokers and check out online forums for information you might not find otherwise.
You want to compromise on your new home as little as possible. Write down a list of non-negotiables, and stick to it. Consider issues like:
• Short distance to amenities and quality school districts
• Easy access to commuter thoroughfares
• Nearby public transportation
• Lots of area green space and mature trees
• Pet-friendly community
• Fantastic view
• Good infrastructure to make getting around manageable
• Spacing of homes and yard privacy
• Quiet streets and low noise
• General desirability of neighborhood and home values
Decide what you can compromise on and what you absolutely, positively must have. Be realistic, but also be kind to yourself. Giving in on too many desires will make your new place seem like a drag before you even move in.
Think about how you could possibly give up one thing that doesn’t mean so much in order to get something you really want. For example, you might be willing to live further from downtown in order to get the view or the park you’ve always wanted nearby. You might be fine with a smaller home or condo to have the convenience of cafes and a movie theatre on your block.
Pay a Visit During Off Hours
Finally, if you’re considering making an offer on a property, make another visit or two to the neighborhood. Try to do it during less-than-ideal times in order to get a realistic picture of what it’s like to live there. Things to watch for include:
• Too much traffic during rush hour or after school
• No one out on the streets in what should be busy pedestrian areas
• Loud parties or loiterers at night or on the weekends
• Businesses that become noisy or crowded after hours (restaurants, bars, etc.)
• Unsavory characters making the area feel less safe
• Poor city services, like trash collection and snow removal
Pay attention to the vibe of the neighborhood. Home buyers tend to put blinders on when they find a property they really want, but before closing, it’s time to be realistic. You may tour a home on a quiet Sunday afternoon, only to find out that on Friday night, you can hear music from the pub down the street until the wee hours of the morning.
Buying a home is an expensive proposition and one that takes time. As long as you’re being thorough about things like an inspection and financing, why not take the extra step of checking out the neighborhood too? You’ll be happy you did when you wind up in a neighborhood you love!